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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Feb 2021


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WTO Formally Appoints Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala as its First Female Leader

  • The World Trade Organization selected Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the first woman and first African as its leader, tasking the former Nigerian Finance Minister with restoring trust in a rules-based global trading system roiled by protectionism and the pandemic.
  • During a virtual meeting the WTO's 164 members unanimously selected the 66-year-old development economist to serve a four-year term as director-general.
  • After withstanding a veto of her candidacy by the now-departed Trump administration, Okonjo-Iweala takes the helm of the Geneva-based WTO at a precarious time for the world economy and just as the organization itself is mired in a state of dysfunction.
  • She held a previous role as chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization after a public sector career in international finance, including two terms as Nigeria's finance minister and some 25 years at the World Bank. Her dual U.S. citizenship means she's also the first American to hold the organization's top job.

Malaysia Defends Plan to Deport Myanmar Nationals

  • Malaysia defended a plan to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals on navy ships sent from their homeland just weeks after a coup, following criticism from the United Nations.
  • Malaysian immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the detainees, who will be deported on February 23, are accused of offences including not having valid travel documents and overstaying their visas.
  • "It is part of our usual programme to deport illegal immigrants held at detention centres," he said in a statement, adding Malaysia sent home over 37,000 foreigners last year.
  • He said that no refugees registered with the UN or members of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority are among those being deported.
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TCS Launches Neural Automotive and Industrial Experience Centre in US

  • IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has launched a Neural Automotive and Industrial Experience Center in Troy, Michigan, to help customers accelerate innovation.
  • The new centre includes an automotive garage set-up with access to the latest technologies for customers and partners to experiment, co-innovate, build prototypes, and launch solutions in an agile manner.
  • This is achieved using TCS solutions and accelerators including TCS' Autoscape and TCS' Autonomous Vehicle Development platform, to accelerate the adoption of autonomous, electric, and connected capabilities.

Indian Bank Integrates Core Banking Software of Erstwhile Allahabad Bank

  • State-owned Indian Bank has successfully integrated the software system with the erstwhile Allahabad Bank post the amalgamation.
  • The bank has successfully completed process of technical migration of CBS/ITMS software of erstwhile Allahabad Bank with CBS/ITMS software of Indian Bank.
  • The scheme of amalgamation of Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank came into force from April 1, 2020.
  • Indian Bank carried out the migration process on 13-14 February, and had informed that customers may face some disruption in services.

Hiranandani to Set Up Logistics and Hyperscale Data Centre Park in Bengal

  • Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Motors to acquire land from it for a logistics and hyperscale data centre park.
  • The MoU has been signed for a 100-acre land at Uttarpara, West Bengal, where Hiranandani Group companies will set up an integrated logistics and hyperscale data centre park called Greenbase and Yotta.
  • Direct investment by the Hiranandani Group in the venture is pegged at Rs. 8,500 crore. The combined investment by the group and its customers is estimated to cross Rs. 10,000 crore.
  • Greenbase will deliver a modern and self-sustainable ecosystem consisting of 3-million square feet of industrial and warehousing space along with essential utilities and support infrastructure.
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Europa Clipper: NASA's Ocean World Mission Gets Launch Date

  • A mission to study a moon of Jupiter that could be home to extra-terrestrial life has been given a launch date.
  • NASA is sending a spacecraft to the icy world of Europa, which holds an ocean under its frozen outer shell.
  • Scientists have long regarded the moon as one of the most promising targets in the search for life elsewhere in our Solar System.
  • The Europa Clipper spacecraft will now launch to the Jovian  moon in October 2024, arriving in April 2030.
  • The spacecraft was to have launched on NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. But the space agency is reported to no longer be considering that launch vehicle.
  • It will instead lift off on a commercial rocket.
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R. Ashwin Becomes 1st Bowler to Dismiss Left-handers 200 Times in Tests

  • Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the first player in the 143-year history of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against left-handed batsmen.
  • He achieved the feat during the second day of India's second Test against England here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, his home ground.
  • Fast bowler Stuart Broad was the 200th left-hander to be dismissed by Ashwin.
  • Ashwin has picked 391 wickets in his career so far and 51.2 percent of his scalps have come against left-handers. His bowling average against left-handers is 19.55 and 31.24 against right-handed batsmen. 
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BJP cannot Form Political Entity in Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka's Election Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa shot down reports of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) planning to set up a political unit in the island nation, saying the country's electoral law does not permit such an arrangement.
  • Punchihewa said that any Sri Lankan political party or group is permitted to have external links with any party or group overseas. But, our electoral laws do not permit overseas political parties to work here.
  • Punchihewa's comments came after media reports quoted Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb as saying that the BJP was planning to extend its footprint in Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Centre Deregulates Geospatial Data and Map-making in India

  • India liberalised its regulations on geospatial data, allowing private companies to conduct surveying and mapping without prior government approvals and sharing the data for various everyday applications, from logistics and transport to road safety and e-commerce.
  • Under the new policy, geospatial data from government agencies such as the Survey of India and the Indian Space Research Organisation will also be made available to public and private companies.
  • The new guidelines will allow to increase the scale, speed, and accuracy of mapping. Indian entities will require no prior approvals, security clearances, licences for acquisition and production of geospatial data and geospatial data services, including maps.

India and Japan Pitch for Assam to be Hub of Connectivity with Southeast Asia

  • India and Japan made a strong pitch for Assam to be a hub for connectivity and economic activities with Southeast Asia, with Japanese funding playing a key role in taking forward infrastructure and development projects.
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Japanese ambassador Satoshi Suzuki visited the north-eastern state to review projects being implemented with Japanese support, and outlined a vision of Assam playing a crucial role in India's efforts to link up with and benefit from new markets in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam.
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Indian Navy Gets Third Scorpene Submarine, to be Commissioned as INS Karanj

  • The Indian Navy got its third Scorpene submarine, which will be commissioned as INS Karanj, of Project P-75 in Mumbai.
  • The acceptance document was signed by Vice Admiral (Retd) Narayan Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director of Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, and Rear Admiral B. Sivakumar, Chief of Staff Officer (Tech) of Western Naval Command.
  • With the delivery of Karanj, India further cemented its position as a submarine building nation.
  • MDL, one of the India's leading shipyards with the capacity and the capability to meet the requirements and aspirations of the Indian Navy, has delivered three Scorpene submarines named Khanderi, Kalvari and now Karanj.
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Anthony Fauci Wins $1 Million Israeli Prize for 'Defending Science'

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has won the $1 million Dan David Prize for "defending science" and advocating for vaccines now being administered worldwide to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Israel-based Dan David Foundation named President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser as the winner of one of three prizes. It said he had earned the recognition over a lifetime of leadership on HIV research and AIDS relief, as well as his advocacy for the vaccines against COVID-19.
  • Fauci has served seven presidents and has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
  • The Dan David Prize, established in 2000, gives $1 million awards in three categories each year for contributions addressing the past, present and future.

JNU Professor Receives Award for Promoting Korean Studies in India

  • Jawaharlal Nehru University's professor Ravikesh has been awarded the South Korean Deputy Prime Minister's citation for his contributions and research in the field of Korean studies in India, the Korean Cultural Center in New Delhi announced. The award was jointly presented by the Deputy Prime Minister and South Korea's Department of Education.
  • Professor Ravikesh is the chairperson of Centre for Korean Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies at JNU and has over two decades of research experience in the field of Korean Studies, according to a press release by the university.
  • His core research includes Korean language teaching, modern Korean literature, aesthetics, literary translation, and aspects of e-Learning in teaching a foreign language.
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Mamata Banerjee Launches Scheme to Provide Meal at Rs. 5 to Poor People

  • Ahead of the assembly election in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee virtually launched the 'Maa' scheme under which her government would provide a meal at a nominal cost of Rs. 5 to poor people.
  • They will get a platter of rice, Dal, a vegetable and egg curry for Rs. 5, she said adding that the state government will bear a subsidy of Rs. 15 per plate.
  • Self-help groups will operate the kitchens from 1 pm to 3 pm every day and such kitchens will be set up everywhere in the state gradually.
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Ayush Ministry, WHO Collaborate for Regional Traditional Medicine Action Plan

  • Ayush ministry and World Health Organization South East-Asia Regional Office have signed a letter of exchange to implement its regional traditional medicine action plan. For this, an Ayush expert would be deputed to WHO's regional traditional medicine programme.
  • The plan that was signed focuses on safe and effective use of traditional medicine service, including Ayurveda and other Indian traditional systems of medicine, and its appropriate integration into national health care systems.
  • This partnership will help countries in the South-East Asia Region develop policies and implement action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine.
  • Ayush ministry and WHO will assist countries develop appropriate policy or regulation framework, exchange of information and activities performed for integration of traditional medicine in public health and dissemination of information to the community.
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Meghna Pant's New Book "The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News"

  • Award-winning writer, journalist and speaker, Meghna Pant has penned a new book "The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News". The book will be released in April 2021, and soon be seen as a major motion picture under the title Badnam Ladoo.
  • The book is about a small-town woman, Ladoo, who scandalizes her conservative family when she decides to use a sperm donor to have a baby while continuing to look for Mr. Right. This book takes a humorous and light approach to address an important issue, relevant to every woman in the world, without being belligerent or pedantic.
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